Chain plying, or Navajo plying

As a beginner spinner, I have been very cautious with plying. When you ply, you twist the singles you have just spun together – and thus I was thinking, if the plying goes wrong, all the time spent spinning those singles is for nothing!

So, when I was about to ply the very first singles I had spun, I was very cautious. I followed Megan LaCore’s very good YouTube video on Andean plying, watched it several times and used a watch-stop-and-do method to ply that first tiny skein. It seemed complicated, but the plying went so much easier than the initial singles spinning, so I lost some of my fright right there.

Now I have begun spinning the fiber I got from Karen in the MYB swap. This fiber has color changes in it, and when I spin it I get looooong pieces of the same color. When plying using the method above, I would get a mixed yarn in the end, which I wasn’t sure I wanted. I mean – when there are some lovely color repeats in the initial fiber, why ruin it by mixing the colors while plying?

So I decided I would need to use another plying method, which keeps the color repeats intact. That meant: chain plying, or Navajo plying! I had heard a lot about it, but I still wasn’t convinced that would be a good method for me. So I decided just to try, I could always try another plying method later.

Turns out chain/Navajo plying is eeeeeeasy! So much easier than the previously used method, as you only have to keep hold of one single at the time in Navajo plying, while the Andean method requires you keep track of at least 2 singles at the same time (more, if you want to have a 3- og 4-ply yarn). In the Andean method it is hard to keep the tension of both singles regular, i.e. to avoid one of the singles kinking up on itself. In Navajo plying you just have that one single, the tension is easy to keep, you get a nice 3-ply yarn and my feeling is that it gets much more even.

Of course, practice is also improving the final result :o)
See for yourself:

Apart from size of the skein and color, do you see the difference? The one to the left if the first one I made – the one to the right the second. The second one is much more even than the first. Also, I experienced that I get the best result by using loooooong chains when plying, rather than shorter ones. It makes the plying much more even, and furthermore also requires less work ;o)

There is another difference though, which I’m not sure I like: the left skein has a yardage of 400m/100g, while the right skein has a yardage of 300m/100g. So, it’s a bit heavier. I would want the yarn to be equal in weight, but I guess the difference is small enough to accept it like this.

(oh, and the left one is 20 meters, while the right one is 42 meters in length. So no, you can’t see the heaviness from the picture!)

I got the feeling of Navajo plying now – for the moment it is my favorite method. So, I plied every portion of singles lyeing about, and managed to catch a picture of it as well: